There’s a couple of places in the Victorian High Country that have massive reputations, and Paradise Valley is one of them. It looks stunning in the photos, and has a fairly significant price tag to go with it. Normally this would turn us off, but we decided to book in for a night and see how good it really was.
Where is Paradise Valley Campground?
This private property is located in the southern part of the Victorian High Country, around an hours drive from Traralgon. This makes it pretty easy to access, and is one of the reasons its considered one of many great camp sites in Victoria.
Is it popular?
Yes, extremely. We wanted to book a stay in late March, and they had a Thursday night available on an unpowered site, but the Friday and Saturday night was completely booked out, which seems to be fairly common. All of the locals know about the property, and its well recommended to anyone going through the area, and is often quite busy.
That in itself is an interesting consideration; if you can get there during the week and have the place almost to yourselves, its a different experience than it being completely booked out. We had a huge stretch to ourselves on Thursday morning, but by the evening it was filling up, and whilst we didn’t have anyone camping in our annexe, it was a lot less quiet.
What’s at Paradise Valley?
Paradise Valley is a big, beautiful and essentially informal caravan park, perched along the stunning Macalister river. When you drive in you are on top of the hill, and you get views of the river down the side, and then weave your way down to the office, where you check in.
They take your registration, and give you the details, and then the boom gate opens to allow you into the camping area. This is a massive, grassy area that follows the river around in a big U shape, with at least 500 metres of prime camping.
Asides from a few trees, and a lot of fire reel hoses, there’s a couple of cabins, an amenities block, powered camping section right nearby, dump point and rubbish bin, and that’s really about it.
There is absolutely no denying that this is one of the most scenic places a lot of people would ever camp at in their life, and this is a big part of why its such a popular place. Perched on pristine green grass overlooking the beautiful river, with a nice fire going and lots of wildlife noises make for a pretty stunning camping experience.
Can you get 2WD’s and Caravans into Paradise Valley?
The road to Paradise Valley is almost entirely bitumen, with it turning to gravel for the last little section in, and through to their property. The road is very well maintained, and whilst it is steep coming in you have zero issues getting big caravans and 2WD vehicles (even with low clearance in).
What does it cost?
Camping here is $20 per adult per night for an unpowered site. Powered sites are $8 extra per night, and children are $7.50 per night if they are over 4 years old. We paid $55 for one nights unpowered camping, and completely forgot about the TAWK regime which would have saved us $15, but there you go.
There is no denying that this is expensive for a camp site, and there’s numerous comments on Wikicamps that agree with the sentiment. Is it over priced though, or fair? That’s an interesting one.
What do you get for your money?
Things have to be pretty special for us to cough up $55 a night, and when we rolled in I wondered what exactly you’d be getting, and if its really worth the coin.
Amazing views and location
I mentioned above that there is no denying this is a spectacular place. I don’t know how much work went into shaping the landscape, but you’d hardly get a better place for camping. The views are staggeringly beautiful, and the river is absolutely magnificent. You can float down the river on an inflatable toy, flick lures around or just appreciate the beauty, but its a pretty awesome scene to take in.
A guaranteed spot
There’s a lot of camping in the high country, but not too many of them allow you to reserve a spot, and know that its available. When a lot of locals come for the weekend, the peace of mind knowing that you have a spot to roll into is huge, and no doubt commands a premium.
Security, and peace of mind
Even with quite a few people at Paradise Valley, the place felt peaceful, and secure. It’s not the place where you’re going to hear loud music for hours late into the evening, or where you’ll get people coming through and ripping the camp site up, because its policed and secure.
If you have a nice van that you are worried about leaving, you know that there are cameras recording your entry and exit, and no ones leaving with your trailer without it being caught on camera.
Great group camping option
There’s some pretty awesome camp sites in the high country, but if you want to go with a handful of other vehicles, finding something suitable isn’t always easy. You couldn’t find a better place for group camping than here, with hundreds and hundreds of metres of camping options, and I guarantee the owners would help you out to reserve a spot if needed.
Easy to get to
Asides from geographically being close to a lot of major towns, Paradise Valley is easy to get to. There’s no 4WD tracks in, no unknowns, no massive hills to climb and its relatively straightforward.
The high country is not the sort of place you want to be poking around in a 2WD vehicle with, or a big caravan as there are more than a few places you’d end up in major trouble. I guess Paradise Valley gives you a taste of the high country without having to risk anything to get there, and you are guaranteed a great spot.
Flushing toilets and hot showers
I suppose you’d be pretty upset if you didn’t get showers and toilets here, but they have a decent sized amenities block. That said, if it was really busy, the 3 showers and toilets on each side would be pushing the friendship!
Fire pits and wood
Paradise valley provides a number of fire pits around the place, but you can’t move them, and you need to supply your own wood. You can buy bags of timber at the office, or bring your own in, but it has to fit in the drum (a normal 200L drum cut up), so bring some with you if you want to save some money.
Is it worth a stay?
This is very much going to depend on what vehicle you have, whether you want a guaranteed spot and how far you are willing to drive. We really enjoyed the property, but there’s no denying $55 is a huge amount of money, especially when we’d just spent the last 2 weeks exploring the high country and hadn’t paid a single cent for any of the camp sites!
Where else can you camp?
From the south, you go past a couple of caravan parks on the dam that you can stay at, or if you go north of Licola, there are a huge number of free camps. We’d planned to check some of them out, but its not as if Paradise Valley is your only option.
That said, the Licola Free camps aren’t just a skip and a jump away; its about 30km of fairly windy, and hilly roads that would comfortably add around an hour to your journey.
Would we go back to Paradise Valley?
I’m glad we went to Paradise Valley, to check it out. It truly is spectacular, and we really couldn’t fault it, except for maybe the price (which would have been borderline reasonable if we’d remembered the TAWK discount!
I doubt though, that we’d go back unless it was for a specific reason (with a group of people etc) as we have the luxury of time, and can find other places that are nearly as nice (or even as nice on some occasions) that cost nothing, or very little.
That said, we are not your average campers, and love the free, remote and harder to get to camp sites, and there’s a reason our accommodation costs in Victoria will come in at under $10 a night on average!
I have no doubt Paradise Valley will continue to be successful though, because it meets a target niche, and good on them. Have you stayed there? What did you think of it?